What do they mean?

14th May 2004 at 01:00
This has to be a good idea. After all, nobody would want to go to the stupid school (although it does have T-shirt slogan possibilities). But as a concept it does seem vaguely tautological: consider the energetic gym, or the wet swimming pool. An intelligent school, presumably, is a place where intelligent people intelligently teach intelligent pupils. Nobody in an intelligent school would ever say "What the hell am I doing here? I must be mad." In an intelligent school all would be calm, reason and efficiency.

Er, right.

The model of the intelligent school has been knocking around for a few years now. To qualify properly as an intelligent school, a school has to be intelligent in many different ways, all at the same time. There is something oddly mystical about the idea of these multiple interlinked intelligences, a whiff of esoteric paths to enlightenment, possibly involving ordeals and joss sticks. Certainly some of the sub-headings do nothing to counter the notion. There are, for example, spiritual intelligence, ethical intelligence, reflective intelligence and emotional intelligence. Surely anybody fully stocked up with that lot should be able to levitate at the very least.

Others are more practical. There is collegial intelligence, which means everyone has to get on together. There is operational intelligence, which means everybody has to operate intelligently. There is even pedagogical intelligence, which must be something to do with teaching. We at St Jude's are taking all this very seriously. As ethically intelligent people, for instance, we are very conscious of our core values, which we keep in the safe. We are constantly reflecting on the emotional intelligence of our pupils, and hope to spot some soon. It is clear to us, however, that a number of important intelligences have been missed out. Reflective intelligence is all very well, but the reflexive kind is much more crucial when a high-velocity brick is aimed at your head. And counter-intelligence is absolutely essential to any school with Maurice in it. How he manages to break all our codes while maintaining his perfect zero mark in every test is a mystery to all of us. But that's the trouble with intelligence. It can fall into the wrong hands.

timhomfray@aol.com

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